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Professor Sheila McLean

University of Glasgow – Professor Emerita of Law and Ethics in Medicine

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Professor Sheila McLean, OBE and Professor Emerita of Law and Ethics in Medicine at the University of Glasgow, is an Accredited Expert representing the UK on UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee.

Professor McLean established the UK’s first full Honours programme in Medical law in 1976. Following her appointment as Senior Lecturer at the University of Glasgow in 1985, she became a pioneer in her field – establishing the Institute of Law and Ethics in Medicine and in 1990, becoming the first International Bar Association Professor of Law and Ethics in Medicine. As an Accredited Expert for the UK National Commission for UNESCO, Shelia represents the UK government on the Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee and so advises the International Bioethics Committee – the only global forum dedicated to reflecting on bioethics.

Her research career has been distinguished and prolific with numerous books and journal articles published. She has been awarded honorary degrees by the Universities of Abertay, Dundee and Edinburgh, and Fellowships of the Academy of Medical Sciences, Royal Society of Edinburgh, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Royal College of General Practitioners and the Royal Society of Arts. In January 2020 she was appointed an OBE in recognition of her services to health and education.

As a member and then Vice-Chairperson of UNESCO’s International Bioethics Committee and the Council of Canadian Academies, Professor McLean has provided specialist advice to a range of international bodies including the Council of Europe, World Health Organisation and The Royal Society of Canada. In the UK she chaired the Department of Health review of consent provisions in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act and was specialist adviser to both the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, and a joint Committee of the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

In Scotland, she was the first Chair of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, Chair of the Inquiry into the Use of Organs at Post Mortem and Chair of the Committee of Inquiry into No Fault Liability. She has been a frequent commentator in the media and has given keynote lectures in many countries around the world.

#Institution

University of Glasgow
Professor Emerita of Law and Ethics in Medicine

SINCE 1990

#Alma-Matter

University of Glasgow
LLB, MLitt, PhD.

1972 – GLASGOW

#Role at UNESCO

Representative of the UK Government on the Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee

SINCE 2006

QUOTE

“While we might reasonably welcome the
advances in medicine that research on the ‘incompetent’ may bring, in fact this rests on two assumptions, neither of which is uncontroversial. First, it assumes that it is legitimate to use people as a ‘means to an end’, often for the greater good of the rest of us; second, it assumes that medical research has actually made a difference so great that it can override any concerns we might have.”

Professor McLean, Writing on Bioethics and Human Rights

All accredited experts within our network are elected onto a specific international committee or programme within UNESCO’s framework

ROLE AT UNESCO

Professor McLean represents the UK government on the Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee which oversees and advises the International Bioethics Committee – the only global forum dedicated to reflecting on bioethics.

Institutions

University of Glasgow
Professor Emerita of Law and Ethics in Medicine, PhD, M.Litt, LLB.

SINCE 1969

Abertay University
Honorary Degree, Doctor of Laws

2002

Dundee University
Honorary Degree, Doctor of Laws

2002

University of Edinburgh
Honorary Degree, Doctor of Laws

2002

Role at UNESCO

UK Representative on the IGBC – Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee.

SINCE 2006

COMMISSION

UKNC Representation: Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee (IGBC)

ESTABLISHED 1998 – PARIS, FRANCE

The Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee meet at least once every two years to examine the advice and recommendations of the IBC. The International Bioethics Committee is a body of 36 independent experts follows progress in the life sciences and its applications in order to ensure respect for human dignity and freedom.

Publications

SELECTED PUBLISHED WORK

Read some of Sheila’s published work on our website, as well as other material, news and articles

LATEST

INTERNATIONAL DAY International Migrants Day 18.12 Home  →  What's On  →  Events  →   International Days   →   December 18 We celebrate the International Migrants Day on December 18. READ MORE BELOW MIGRANTS DAY Photo credit, from top to bottom: Nicola Fioravanti, UNESCO Migration is a global phenomenon driven by many forces. These start with aspirations for…
Read More
INTERNATIONAL DAY International Day of Persons with Disabilities 03.12 Home  →  What's On  →  Events  →   International Days   →   December 3 We celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3. READ MORE BELOW DAY FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES Photo credit, from top to bottom: Nathan Anderson, Arisa Chattasa. The annual observance of the…
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INTERNATIONAL DAY International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People 29.11 Home  →  What's On  →  Events  →   International Days   →   November 29 We celebrate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on November 29. READ MORE BELOW SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE Photo credit, from top to bottom: Ahmed Abu Hameeda, Cole-Keister.…
Read More
INTERNATIONAL DAY International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 25.11 Home  →  What's On  →  Events  →   International Days   →   November 25 We celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25. READ MORE BELOW END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN Photo credit, from top to bottom: United Nations, Karl…
Read More

QUOTE

“Given the fact that my subject straddled law and medicine, initially I was regarded with suspicion by both disciplines. The lawyers didn’t rate the subject and the medics seemed to think that my main aim in life was to teach aspiring lawyers how to sue them! Fortunately, that’s changed over the years.”

Professor McLean, Speaking of her career and it’s impact on the UK legal curriculum

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